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WWII ROLE FORCES LAWMAKER TO RESIGN

An east German Social Democrat quit politics Tuesday after admitting taking part in firing squad slayings of civilians during World War II.

Gustav Just, 70, resigned his state parliamentary seat due to an uproar over his past, which has prompted the United States to consider placing him on its Watch List of war crimes suspects barred from entering the country."I want to avoid damage to my (governing) party and the state of Brandenburg. As a private citizen, I will now seek to clarify the events of 1941," Just told a news conference.

A German newspaper reported Sunday that Just, who had also chaired a commission in the Brandenburg legislature, had been part of a Nazi firing squad that killed six Jews during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Just on Monday admitted involvement in the shootings but said he had been forced to take part as a 20-year-old army private and still had no idea whether the victims were Jews.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper, quoting from files of the former East German Stasi security police, said Just had volunteered for service in the execution squad and was later promoted to lieutenant.

Stasi files opened for inspection since German unification in 1990 have been used to expose ex-secret police collaborators, but the Just case was believed to be the first dealing with wartime atrocities.